On arrival at the airport, your guide and driver will meet you and take you on a city tour of Axum that includes the Archaeological museum of Axum and the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion. The original church was built by Emperor Fasiladas, founder of Gonder, in 1665. It’s thought that this church is built on the original foundations of a temple build by King Ezana or King Kaleb in the 4th or 6th centuries, making this the oldest Christian site in Africa. Keep your eye out for the guarded chapel, which is said to be the home of the Ark of the Covenant. The modern St. Mary’s of Zion cathedral dates back to the 1960s when Emperor Haile Selassie had it built. The architectural style is painfully out of place in the ancient city, but the contrast between the buildings on the site is fascinating. You will spend time exploring the on-site museum under the church, which houses some of Ethiopia’s priceless relics - the museum was recently opened to both women and men, but photography is not permitted. Visit the famous ‘Stelae field’ or obelisk park (4th Century AD and another of the country's impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the ruins of the palace and tomb of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel (5th and 6th Century AD) and the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba (9th century BC). The North Stelae Park contains over 120 stelae, some of which are upright and others being buried or removed. The 'Rome Stelae', the tallest, measuring 25m in height, was shipped to Italy in 1937 under orders from Mussolini, but was since returned and re-erected. At the end of the day you will be transferred to your hotel.
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